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A minor


Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallows' Eve
I should've found a copy of the Charles Williams novel to read today. I can't believe it's already Halloween. My, this year has flown by. I'm off work with nothing on the agenda but AAPC's Reformation Day party tonight. Ethan's going as a cowboy and Levi as an Indian. I suppose I could pull out my Grace Church Choir cassock and go as a cleric from the English Reformation, but I doubt I will.

Reformed as I am, these days I find it hard to get into celebrating the Reformation, which I view as a bittersweet era in church history, a tragic necessity. I also think we're being sectarian if we remember our Reformed saints in a way that practically drowns out all the other saints - and on the eve of All Saints' Day, no less. I'm not saying Auburn Avenue is guilty of this, just pointing it out as a potential temptation.

We're thinking of going to lunch today at Bennigan's, where they're having Monte Madness Mondays right now. In trying to find out more about their Monte Cristo panini, specifically a photo, I ran across this humorous post.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Another Auburn/Anglican dilemma: Do I go to the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference (Jan 9-11) or the AMiA Anglican Studies course (Jan 7-11) and Winter Conference 2006 (Jan 11-15)? Probably the former since it's local and free for church members. But I was really hoping to work out that week in Birmingham. Still, I should probably use the vacation time and travel expense to visit family in Idaho. Sorry, Rick, but looks like it was "just one of these jon things that never pans out" after all.

Since it's not yet online elsewhere, here are the AAPC lecture titles (all except Steve Wilkins'):

Rich Lusk (pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama):
  1. When Church Bells Stopped Ringing - a look at how the church has compromised by Americanizing and privatizing the gospel
  2. The Church and Her Rivals - a defense of the church as the central "sphere" over and against statism and familism
  3. Wide Awake in America - strategies and tactics for the church's mission in the 21st century
Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho):
  1. The Political Impotence of Politics
  2. The Centrality of Preaching in Sacramental Liturgy
  3. What is a High Church Puritan?
Darryl Hart (director of fellowship programs and scholar-in-residence at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Wilmington, Delaware, and adjunct professor of church history at Westminster Seminary, Escondido, California):
  1. The Spirituality of the Church
  2. The Authority of the Church
  3. The Piety of the Church
Should be good. Early registration ends in two days; it's $100 through Monday, Oct 31, after which it's $130. Call Jackie at (318) 323-3061 to register.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Plumbing Saga
This week we had our main plumbing drain line replaced. Our line was old, deteriorated Orangeburg pipe. Hollie's dad offered to help me replace it myself, and we came very close to going that route. But despite what follows, I'm so glad we didn't. It was a killer project; our line is about seventy-five feet long, and the main city sewer connection is six feet underground. We were thinking of renting a six-inch trencher, but it actually took a small backhoe and a ton of manual shoveling by three men.

We ended up hiring a Christian plumber who estimated $900-$1100 compared to Roto-Rooter's $2400 estimate. He got the job done, but he created a few other jobs in the process.

I still can't believe how he left the site. Rather than mounding the dirt back on top of the trench properly, he left it caked all over our yard and our neighbor's yard. He obviously didn't bring a rake, and his shovels only worked one way. It looked like an unfinished construction site, with inches of dirt spread all over our side yard and halfway into our neighbor's yard. My kind father-in-law spent four hours cleaning up, shoveling, raking, and sweeping dirt.

In a couple instances, it was like the plumber or his helpers had never used a backhoe before. They ran over or somehow crushed one of our neighbor's drain line vents such that its PVC top doesn't have anything to screw back onto. (And either they didn't notice, or they tried to hide it under all the dirt; we uncovered it while cleaning up.) They even got the backhoe stuck at one point, and in the course of getting it out, lost control and put a huge dent in the non-screen part of our side screen door. We all knew about the door and thought the plumber would suggest some way to make it right at the end of the job, but when he came inside with an invoice for $1100, he didn't even mention it to Hollie. (I was at work.) He just told her what a deal we got and tried to make her feel guilty, as if we were the ones who came up with his price and terms. Before he agreed to do the job, I told him we didn't have a liquid $1000 at the moment, but I knew we could come up with it in a few days; he offered to let us postdate our check, and we paid him $500 up-front and wrote a postdated check for the remaining $600.

He also told Hollie he was leaving a huge hole that we'd need to fill. In the course of digging, he broke into the old cistern/septic tank. According to the plumber, when the city inspector came out at the end of the job to make sure everything was up to par, the inspector said the old cistern had to be filled - so the plumber told him we'd do it! Now we have to get a small truckload of sand or concrete to fill that.

So, our main problem is solved, but we have some new problems to deal with. The plumber said he would come by sometime this week to look at the neighbor's line vent. I plan to talk with him about reparing or replacing the screen door and filling the cistern then. I haven't seen or heard from him in a few days, though; if he takes much longer, I guess I'll threaten to stop payment on the postdated check. That should get him out.

My dad has been using words like "memorable," "exciting," and "experience" to describe this project. He's also been reminding me that God has a sense of humor, ending one of his emails with, "Enjoy the humor of life, even when you are having a crappy day. Wishing I could be there to help ya..."

Thank God for a father's perspective and a father-in-law's help.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Gibbs the Writer
Our friend Joshua Gibbs has a story being favorably considered for publication by McSweeney's. A while back I suggested that he submit something to them - I'm sure he'd read McSweeney's before, probably more than I - but forgive me if I feel proud of my boy.

Here's something else Josh wrote recently:

One problem that postmillenialists continually face is an inability to believe the future might actually be here. "One day, we'll bring back dancing and cymbals to worship, just like they do in the Bible. Until then, we'll just fling shit at the people who already do those things." Isn't postmillenialism about progress? About getting better? Isn't change implied in things getting better? The church fathers are like your fathers. Love them, honor them- but damn it, man, you're 35, you don't need their permission to cross the street. Leave the house, quit tugging on your mothers skirt- you're a grown man and you're starting to get creepy. Take some chances, risk heartbreak, risk not pleasing them in order to please them. The church fathers did a fine job raising you, just like your earthly father did- but it's not disrespectful to either if you have a few ideas of your own. Hell, they did. You saw the way your dad raised you, you don't agree with everything he did, even though he did a good job. You've got a few radically different ideas of your own. You're going to fine your son five hundred dollars if you ever catch him with pornography, you're going to buy him a car the day he turns sixteen, you're going to give your daughter a dozen roses every week, you're going to make a handwritten copy of the Bible and give it to your first grandson- you're not going to make your kids eat every last bite on their plates, you're going to spank with a hand and not a spoon because it means love not distance, you're going to spend Thanksgiving in a soup kitchen.
We need more writing like this. I sure hope Josh gets published - and that he would then get published more and more.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Thursday, October 27, 2005

4 Weeks
Today marks Finn's fourth week with us. Hard to believe a month has already passed. Unlike Rachel (who must have been a supermodel in a past life), I'm not yet ready to post any pictures of myself postpartum. You'll have to make do with one of the baby because frankly, he's a lot cuter.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, October 24, 2005

Updates & Forthcoming
In the updates department, I've made some revisions to my "Seminary, Grad School, etc" post (linked under our archives as "Why Still in School?"). I've also updated our sidebar at the top to reflect the fact that, as of last night, we have officially rejoined Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church. More on that will be forthcoming.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Reformed Church Statistics
Dale Courtney recently compiled a list of Conservative Presbyterian & Reformed Denominations by number of congregations. I was surprised at how relatively many congregations there are in the PCA.

As with any list like this, there's something for everyone to quibble with. For instance, an Associate Reformed Presbyterian pastor points out that there are actually 262 ARP churches, according to the minutes of their 2005 synod (see page 9 of the pdf).

Also, a few of the listings don't seem to fit the heading, e.g. the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in America (not Presbyterian and not all Reformed, at least not "Reformed" in the way most churches use the term) and the Confessing Church Movement within the PCUSA (only part of a denomination). Still, this could be seen as a problem with the heading and not the list itself; I, for one, am glad to see these groups included.

At least one member of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) seems to have been overlooked: the Korean American Presbyterian Church. Another omission is the Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church, a new micro-Presbyterian denomination formed in response to "Shepherdism, Federal Vision Theology, and the New Perspective on Paul."

Quibbles aside, it's an interesting (albeit sad) list.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Friday, October 21, 2005

Confessions of a Coupon Clipper
I'm a bargain shopper. Plain and simple. I can spot a clearance tag from a mile away. It's not abnormal for me to go so far as to get a price adjustment/refund for a grand sum of 14 cents. It is only natural then that I should clip coupons. Some may argue that this borders on old ladyish but let's face it, I have no shame. The real joy (and geekiness) comes with double coupon days. I organize my coupons in order of how the products are displayed in the store and then make a corresponding shopping list complete with discount prices. That way I can skim the aisles without having to shuffle wads of paper. It's all about efficiency, folks. Remember that game show called Supermarket Sweep? My dream was to be a contestant...running down the aisles, filling my shopping cart with rump roast and diapers, and racing back to the finish. I could have beat the pants off any of those frumpy housewives. The show has long been off the air (what, not enough enthusiastic shoppers out there?) and with it goes my chance of super fame. Ah well, I'll get my kicks this weekend anyway...Albertsons has double coupons calling my name.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Yee Haw
This picture cracks me up. I laugh out loud every time I see it.

Go here for proof that my baby isn't as retarded as the above photo would have you believe.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Jerusalem (Parry)
I have a pillbox with a Jerusalem cross and the word "Jerusalem" on it. Nearly everytime I see it, the music of Jerusalem (Parry) starts playing build in my head, and I can hardly hold back the first line, "And did those feet in ancient time...." I always wish I could remember the rest of the words. This morning I pulled out my Chariots of Fire album and then Googled the lyrics. Here's the first result I clicked. Note its similarlity to the Cyber Hymnal's page, as well as its difference. It states, "There is historical data supporting this story." Compare the Cyber Hymnal: "How­ev­er, there is no his­tor­ic­al da­ta sup­port­ing this sto­ry." O ye of little faith.

By the way, given the hymn's history with the women's suffrage movement in England, maybe Jon Barlow should teach it to his son!

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, October 15, 2005

RevJATB on Church Names
One of the blogs I enjoy the most these days is by John Allen Bankson, pastor of John Knox, Ruston (now that Jeff Steel's across the pond studying for his PhD and going through the ordination process in the Diocese of Durham, Church of England). Quirky, erudite, urbane, fun - what more could one ask of a blog? Plus, I happen to share Reverend Bankson's love for Seinfeld, popular Jewish culture and tradition, good grammar and style, and better music, food, etc. Clearly we both have impeccable taste. :)

The other day, Reverend Bankson took a poll on whether his parish should refer to ordinary time as the season after Trinity, or after Pentecost. In the comments to his post, he added the following:
I've often said if I were in the position to name a church, I would want to call it Church of the Holy Spirit. I offer the following reasons:

1) We do believe in the Holy Spirit, outward evidence of Presbyterian behavior notwithstanding.

2) John Calvin had more to say about the Holy Spirit than almost any other theologian, therefore it seems odd that his spiritual heirs (a designation which, I know, is today debatable) seem embarrassed to talk about the Holy Spirit.

3) I agree with Peter Toon that a church's denominational designation should not come between the name of the church and the word "church". Example: "St. Mary's Church (Episcopal)" or the Church of St. Mary (Episcopal), not "St. Mary's Episcopal Church." Thus, "The Church of the Ascension (Lutheran)" rather than "Ascension Lutheran Church" or "The Church of the Holy Spirit (Presbyterian)." This emphasizes that we are part of THE Church first, our denomination second. (This is not the same as a church wanting to be known as "NorthePointeChurch" or "Turkey Crossing Fellowship" and burying its denominational name deep in an interior page of its web site.)
I couldn't agree more.

jon :: link :: comment ::

"Classically Trained"
I'm not much of a gamer, but I couldn't resist buying this clearance t-shirt at Target tonight.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Paedofaith by Lusk
Cool! It's now available for pre-order.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Boyz II Men
Last night I reread much of Doug Wilson's Future Men. Someone also recently pointed me to Vern Poythress's article, "How I Have Helped My Boys to Become Christian Men." Helpful and instructive, both.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

For those interested in Radical Orthodoxy, Rev. Matt Boulter's new blog is worth checking out. Its description says it all: "political theology in the city."

For my Anglo-Catholic friends, Matt's "Rusty Reno on Radical Orthodoxy" post (where I happened to have the privilege of posting the first comment on this maiden blog) might be of special interest.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mystery Solved?
A couple years ago, I had a puzzling illness, for which a full and accurate diagnosis was never reached. Well, now it seems the mystery has finally been solved: severe allergic reaction to naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, etc). I had wondered if this might be it, but now I'm sure. (Of course, a couple years ago, I had no idea, so I kept taking naproxen for days as a fever reducer and pain reliever; unbeknownst to me, it was the naproxen that was causing and perpetuating my illness in a vicious cycle.)

So Saturday night, I took some naproxen for a headache, and Sunday morning I woke up with a blistering rash around my right eye and cheek, swollen lips, mouth soreness, and flu-like symptoms. Being the pharmacist's son, I took some antihistamine (Zyrtec), some vitamins, minerals and herbs, and began applying hydrocortisone lotion (Cortane-B), all of which helped, but not enough. I happened to have an appointment with my endocrinologist today, and she said my symptoms seemed like Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. She gave me a steroid shot (Celestone) and said she'd refer me to an allergist or dermatologist if I wasn't better in a couple days.

Thankfully I was off Sunday and Monday; I stayed home sick today and hope to go back to work tomorrow.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Zahl's Eucharistic Theology
Over the last year or so, I've attentively followed discussions here and there of the Very Rev Dr Paul Zahl's eucharistic theology:

- Fr Lee Nelson (1 and 2)
- Rev John Allen Bankson
- Fr Al Kimel (1, 2, 3)
- Rev Jeff Steel

For those who don't know, Dr Zahl is dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA, and former dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, AL.

While I don't necessarily agree with Zahl's eucharistic theology, I think Fr Kimel hits it on the head by saying that Zahl's theology is very much along the lines of the Swiss reformers. I think it's even fair to say that Dean Zahl's eucharistic theology is Calvinistic, even if it's not Calvinian. ("Calvinistic" refers to Calvin's followers and "Calvinian" refers to Calvin himself.) And yet he is dean of an official Episcopal seminary, which means that there must be some support for his eucharistic theology in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion - which means I am not alone among Anglicans in rejecting consecrationism.

Furthermore, true catholicity demands that Anglo-Catholics respectfully and charitably disagree with Zahl and others (like me), but unfortunately, despite themselves, Anglo-Catholics often forget the fuller sense of the word, "catholic." And so we read otherwise good and godly folks calling Zahl a heretic and saying things like, "Down with Zahl. It's a shame that ECUSA has become so bad that people look to Dean Zahl as an orthodox leader." The irony here is staggering. "The Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA) is falling apart. Let's have some infighting with other orthodox clergy! I know, we'll start by contesting one another's orthodoxy!" Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

jon :: link :: comment ::

9 Days Old
Today is my official due date. Instead of hanging around in the hospital and staring at the walls, we are sitting at home and cuddling Finn. Can't beat that.

PS from Jon: Hollie posted more Finn pics on the boys' blog!

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, October 3, 2005

Finn & New Life
Here's Finn in the Virtual Nursery at St Francis Medical Center. We were discharged Saturday, and everyone's doing great. We're staying with Hollie's parents for a couple days, enjoying all the help with the boys as we ease into our new life.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The Name Finn: 1
This is cool, although we had the Old Norse origin (Finnr - "Laplander," "from Finland") more in mind than the Irish (Fionn - "white," "fair," "blond-haired, blue-eyed"), although there is definitely some overlap between their meanings. (Coincidence? I think not. But I've always been enamored with Semitic and Indo-European roots, unified theories of language - theories of a master language, an ur-language, etc.) But I never thought of Finn as a distinctively Irish name until everyone started asking if we were of Irish descent, etc. Guess that goes to show how much I know.

jon :: link :: comment ::

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